Why sex should be off the menu while you have a yeast infection

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By Lifestyle Reporter Time of article publishedNov 5, 2020

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Yeast infections are a common fungal infection of the genital area.

Also called vaginal candidiasis, vaginal yeast infection affects up to three out of four women at some point in their lifetimes. Many women experience at least two episodes.

While yeast infections aren’t classified as a sexually transmitted disease, they can be caused by and further aggravated by sex.

Can you have sex with a yeast infection?

While you can have sex with a yeast infection, doctors don’t recommend it. For starters, it may not be enjoyable.

Speaking to Insider, Peace Nwegbo-Banks, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Serenity Women’s Health & Med Spa in Pearland, Texas, US, says, “Often with a yeast infection, there’s itching, burning, increased discharge, and it’s an overall uncomfortable process.”

Sex can exacerbate these symptoms, leading to an altogether unpleasant experience.

From a health perspective, yeast infections can also inflame genital tissue, allowing for micro-abrasions to occur during sex, says Nwegbo-Banks. This can cause more pain during intercourse, and any increase in micro-abrasions could lead to a heightened risk of sexually transmitted infections.

Sex may pass the infection along to your partner:

Healthline notes that although it’s possible to transmit a yeast infection to your partner through sexual activity, the likelihood of this depends on your partner’s anatomy.

If your sexual partner has a penis, they’re less likely to contract a yeast infection from you. About 15% of people with a penis that have unprotected sex with a partner who has a vaginal yeast infection will become infected. Those who have an uncircumcised penis are more likely to be affected.

If your sexual partner has a vagina, they may be more susceptible. However, the current medical literature is mixed on how uncommon or likely this actually is. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it can happen, but more clinical studies are needed to determine how or why this happens.

When to see your doctor

  • If this is your first time having a yeast infection, see your doctor and get an official diagnosis. Yeast infections can have similar symptoms to other vaginal infections.
  • You have severe symptoms such as tears or cuts around your vagina and extensive redness and swelling.
  • You’ve had four or more yeast infections in the past year.
  • You’re pregnant or have diabetes, HIV, or any other condition that affects your immune system.

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